It’s August; which if you believe the Interweb and the Instafluencers, means it’s practically January already.
So apparently it’s time for Happy New Year already?
Ok, I will agree that once the 1st of August arrives, I get a bellyflip of panic. It means the long (and for once glorious!) summer is almost over. It means it’s high time I was sorting Mini-Me for Back to School. It means that I now only have 3 weeks to get through the mile long to-do in the summer list I wrote on the first day of her holidays. It means everyone trying to cram all the things on the Summer lists into 3 weekends.
But it also means return to routine, which if your house is anything like mine, is something that I can not deny missing.
And then begins September; a month of sunshine and still long evenings where the dust settles on the chaos of the summer months and where Fridays take on a whole new meaning.
Then comes October, with the crisp coolness and warm colours and the excitement and build up to Halloween.
And then we have November, the month which will last 498 days and drive us all to stews and hot whiskeys and panics about how it’s nearly time for Santa Season and we haven’t even “started yet”…
And then it’s December and there’s a whole month of glitter and Christmas and Grinches and never-ending darkness and fires and heating blasting and cold and ice…
And we have ALL of that to do before we even think about next year.
So while YES, once August arrives, the end of the year does suddenly seem right around the corner, in reality, we still have 5 whole months until then. 5 whole months of birthdays and new beginnings and fighting and eating and laughing and growing and sniffling and working and parenting and everything else that our lives entail.
So take it easy on allowing memes and such online images to make you feel like you’re losing time. You’re not.
You didn’t make it to every waterfall or family day out you’d planned. Your kids didn’t get to go on nature walks every day. You didn’t get that catch up with your cousin that you’ve been promising each other all year. You didn’t actually get that night out with your besties that you’ve been putting off until summer since January. You didn’t get your children to the top of a mountain. You didn’t make it to the beach and the fancy picnic basket remains unused since last year…
Who says these things have to be done in summer? What’s wrong with getting that family trip in September if it suits your work better? Why can’t you go to Glenveagh or to the beach in October? Who says that all of these things have to be done within school holidays?
So while these images and memes are quirky and cute and we find ourselves laughing or nodding in inst-agreement, they’re just another example of how we’re letting strangers online affect our own perceptions of our own lives. Instead of thinking “sure the year’s nearly over”, ask yourself what you can still do and fit in and enjoy in the 5 months that are left…until next year, where guess what? We start all over again!
Scrap the summer bucket list and make up a new one for yourself and your family that doesn’t have a deadline.
Because yes, summer is limited, but thankfully, there are 3 other seasons and no one is measuring you, except yourself.
When a 6 year old asks you a question, sometimes, it makes us think. We begin by explaining it to her in the simplest terms possible, and in doing so, sometimes we realise that what we’re explaining, ISN’T as complicated as we grownups like to think it is...
“What is a Bully Mammy?”
“Erm…A bully is someone who needs to make others feel bad to feel good.”
“That’s not very nice Mammy.”
“No it isn’t.”
“Are bullies not very nice?”
“Well some bullies are nice but they’re just a wee bit sad.”
“Why are they sad?”
“I don’t know pet. Some Bullies don’t even know that they’re sad or angry. But they are and so if you are happy or excited, they don’t like it because it makes them feel more angry and sad. And so they think they should stop you from being happy so that they can feel happy.”
“That sounds silly Mammy.”
“Yes. Yes it does.” (Actually Darling. It sounds utterly ridiculous…)
“Why can’t they just be nice?”
“I don’t know Honey. Sometimes they can be nice, they can even pretend to be nice when they’re not really.” (And they’re the ones you need to watch…)
“Because it makes them feel better about themselves.”
“That’s just stupid.”
“Yes. Yes it is.”
“What’s their problem like?”
“I don’t know pet. But remember that if someone doesn’t like you or is being mean to you, it’s not your problem. It’s their problem…”
And there, just like that, I have turned into my father.
“Remember who has the problem Darling” he has always said. And do you know what? As usual, he was and is right.
Whether you’re 5 years old in a playground, or 16 years old in a locker room, or 23 years old in a flat-share, or 32 years old in a staffroom, or 43 years old in an office, or 56 years old in a committee meeting, or 67 years old in a group or club… or 87 years old at the bingo, other people will sometimes have issues with you.
Other people will always have problems. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. You don’t have to be.
But remembering that the issue or problem is THEIRS, not yours, helps.
I hate that I can’t protect her or her sister from Bullies. I hate that I won’t be beside her everywhere to show her the false smiles or to point out the ulterior motives of some people. It makes me sick that she might ever feel how I did for many many years in secondary school.
But while I can’t be there and she will of course have to deal with other people’s “problems”, I CAN and I will arm her with the understanding that she is in control of one thing.
She is in control of HER. Of HER feelings and HER self-worth and HER behaviour. And while she will make mistakes and poor judgement and absolute feck-ups, by God I hope that she will always be kind to others.
She will applaud them for their achievements rather than resent them for her failures.
She will congratulate her teammates even if she lost the game.
She will not put people down for being different.
She will not allow others to put someone else down in her company.
She will recognise that if someone else’s success annoys her, that it’s HER who has the problem, not them and by being bitter, she is gaining nothing but her own downfall.
Other people hold up a big mirror to us.
The person who gets to go on 3 holidays a year, reminds us that we don’t.
The person who wins, reminds us that we haven’t.
The person who has lost weight/bought a car/gotten married/been promoted/changed jobs etc., often highlights to us that we want something and haven’t yet got it.
Rather than belittling them for it or being angry at them, try realising that if you really wanted it, you would have it. If you really want to make something happen, who’s stopping you? Because surprisingly enough, it isn’t THEM who has the problem is it?
Bullies are to be pitied. Many don’t even realize that they do it. Many would be broke to the bone to think that their behaviour or comments have upset you.
But then, there are others who wouldn’t give a shit. And they are not worth your energy.
Remember who has the problem. If it’s you, that’s your problem. If it’s not you, why are you wasting your energy worrying about it?
When did Easter become such a big deal?
Now, before I come across as a Negative Nelly here, let me clarify that I LIKE Easter.
I like it for lots of reasons. Mainly the fact that it is accompanied by holidays, better weather and chocolate. It’s also a great excuse to enjoy Easter dinners, visit family and to meet up with friends. And it is the time of year where it’s finally acceptable and not weird to wear yellow. What’s not to like?
As kids, Easter meant the end of the drudgery of lent. It meant a lot of services and masses, but it was all topped off by the family occasions and meals and wearing of the good clothes. It meant cousins visiting and mostly, it meant CHOCOLATE. The first taste of chocolate melting on your tongue after having had it banned for 40 days, was AMAZING!
Now, Easter is as big an event as Christmas for many. Houses are decorated. Holidays are planned. New outfits are worn. People go all out. And if you do, good for you. But I have ONE tiny, ickle, niggly little issue that quite honestly is grinding my springtime gears.
The Easter Bunny.
Why? Because my daughter asked me last week:
“When do we write our letters to The Easter Bunny?”
“Why would you be writing a letter to the Easter Bunny?”
“So he can bring me toys?”
“The Easter Bunny doesn’t bring toys.”
“He does. Japonica says that he is bringing her Shopkins and a scooter.”
What the actual?
Unless it is Japonica’s birthday on Easter Sunday, why the heck she would be getting big gifts like this is beyond me.
The Easter Bunny used to be a symbol. A thing associated with Easter. Like the Easter Egg. Now apparently, The Easter Bunny is like the Santa Claus of Springtime. The Easter Bunny, now leaves presents for some kids apparently…the little fecker.
Why? Because somemum (or Dad), somewhere, decided to treat their little Darling to something nice, which is their prerogative, but in their wisdom, left it as a treat “from the Easter Bunny.”
Now, if parents decide to buy things for their kids, for their own reasons, with their own money, in their own home, is their OWN business. Give them what you want, but let them know that they are from YOU… Not a magic bunny.
When you start something that your little one is obviously going to share at school (because let’s face it, presents are CLASS regardless of who leaves or brings them!), you might be causing a problem for others.
You are adding pressure to parents who already have enough to be dealing with. There are parents who don’t think their kids need any more gifts or toys 3 months after Santa has been. There are parents who depend on the 3 for 2 sales to buy Easter Eggs for their kids. There are parents who depend on family members to buy the eggs. There are parents who are still paying off Christmas.
Christmas is already difficult. It is already full of traditions that should you choose to follow, can be contentious and unfair. We have already cultured our kids into expecting gifts on December 25th and we all know that the “How come Santa bought HIM a pony but only bought me a bike?” conversation will happen at some stage. But as a society, we have learned to deal with that. We are accustomed to it and we practice our excuses and explanations. And we have a full year to plan and save for it.
Why, oh WHY do we want to be doing it twice a year?
Make Easter whatever you want it to be. Go to mass. Don’t. Wear yellow. Don’t. Stay in your PJS. Don’t. Go out for lunch. Don’t. Buy eggs. Don’t. Paint eggs. Don’t. Organize an egg hunt in your garden…or don’t. Whatever you do, on your own home, good for you, but but for the love of St. Cadbury, don’t start some extortionate rumour mill among the kiddies that the fricken Easter Bunny will bring toys if they’re good. Leave that job to Santa Claus. We don’t need a Vice-Santa.
Now, I probably should go buy some Easter eggs. And I might need a yellow dress. But will my little Bunny be writing a letter of request to the Easter Bunny?
Eh, no. No she won’t.
I LOVE it! I love everything about it. I love the sparkle, the sounds, the smells, the smiles. I love the kindness. I love how it brings out the best in so many people.
But what I don’t love, is the pressure placed on us by the interweb to create magical, Christmas card worthy Hallmark moments. It’s started already; Instagranny and Bookface are full of pictures of beautiful trees and perfect living rooms. None of us posted the mess of them being put up though did we!? Myself included. Of course not. We want to show the world our best smile don’t we? We want to give the general idea that we’ve gont our sh*t together.
MY Christmas Eve shall be fablis. Here’s how it shall look if I post it online.
Some last minute, calm and fun shopping in town, a family breakfast with my siblings and all of our minions, a quick visit to the grandparents’ homes and then home, where Mammy will wear her apron and help the girls make homemade cookies for Santa, create perfect Belgian hot chocolate for them before snuggling up to watch a movie. Then, I prep all of the veg etc for Christmas dinner. Then, as Daddy bathes the girls and gets them ready for bedtime, Mammy shall pour a little drop of mulled wine and begin creating the turkey. We shall have some hearty homemade soup for tea and mammy shall double check her lists to ensure that all is done. In a whirlwind of excitement, the girls shall leave out their fablis homemade cookies, a carrot and some milk for Santa. They’ll sprinkle reindeer food on the steps and go to bed, happy and excited.
Then, Daddy shall pop a bottle of bubbles, we’ll finish wrapping presents and then we’ll cozy up on the sofa and wait for Santa.
The last minute shopping will not be calm and fun, unless you have someone to sit in the car with minions while you pop in and out of shops.
Family breakfast WILL be fun, but it will most likely also be filled with nyaming and crying, with things like “She’s sitting on meeee”, “He got more berries” and “Stop that nonsense now!”. The adults will eat breakfast, pretending to have jovial conversation, but really just throwing random and disconnected statements at each other between bouncing the kids.
Visiting – Yes, but the over excited and wound up kiddies will be needing a sleep by then and there is a high chance of tantrums forecast once a loving and caring Grandparent enters the room. Add sugar before wrestling kids into car. Perfect!
Bake cookies: Buy a box of cookie mix. Add an egg and there you go. Mary Poppins indeed.
Hot chocolate: Not Belgian. Not fancy. Straight from the coffee machine pods. Plop in the marshmallows and she’s happy out..
Movie: In my head it’s Miracle on 34th Street, in reality it’ll be ELF again for 38 minutes before Ben and Holly return. And it’ll be grand, because Mammy will realistically be watching it from the kitchen.
Homemade soup: HAHAHAHAHA! I’m not that organised. I go to Mum’s on Christmas Eve and steal a lunchbox full of hers. No point in both of us making it, is there?
Mulled wine: Buy a jar or packet. Slosh in some cheap wine and orange juice. Done. (Oh, and if you don’t like mulled wine, why the heck are you making it?)
Prepping dinner: This I DO do. Not because I’m Mary Poppins, but because the only thing any Mammy needs to be peeling on Christmas Day is the paper off presents (or the foil of my Chocolate Orange!) PS. Did you know you can buy PRE-PEELED SPUDS!? Go for it Mammy. It’s Christmas after all!
Lists: Once you’re home, scrap the lists. Whatever you haven’t bought by then, doesn’t need bought. I will do a last To Do list, just to remind me of what needs done before I can sit on my backside for a few glasses of grapes later. TIP: Write some stuff you’ve already done so you’ll feel better that there are a few lines through it already.
Bedtime: Yes it will be exciting, but it will also be frantic with two children who can’t control their highly stimulated and sugar induced emotion, and full of threats of “If you’re not sleeping, Santa won’t come”. Eventually, Mini-Me will succumb to sleep, but them going straight to bed and nodding off instantly is as possible as me getting a Chanel coat. Then you get to start to tidy and clean and do all the other stuff that needs doing, just like every other day. And who will notice or care if your sitting room looks perfect?
Presents: If you don’t like wrapping stuff, don’t. Keep it simple. You don’t need fancy curled ribbons. They do not need to be Pinterest worthy. Tell people the kids wrapped them, or better still, buy Christmas gift bags. Sorted. Santa doesn’t have time to wrap presents in my mind. Santa has better things to do.
Waiting for Santa? Yeah. After 2 hours of tiptoeing about the place, forgetting where things are and trying not to wake the kids with rustling bags, as you try not to KILL each other! Then you finally sit down to “relax” before realising that the kids will be up in, oh… approximately 4 hours!
Christmas will come and go. It is magical and wonderful, but it is also what you make it. I just HOPE my Christmas is exactly as I have described, because cheats and realities and all, it’s MY perfect. No one else’s.
The Christmas inspector is not going to visit on Christmas morning to check if your home in Hallmark worthy. NO ONE actually cares that you wrap EVERY SINGLE ONE of the presents. No one cares what your kids get from Santa. No one cares if you have your hair brushed. No one cares if you’re all in matching PJs. And the only person whose opinion matters on these things, is you.
While we like to see people we like and care about looking happy on Christmas morning, remember that you are under NO obligation to post pics or share ANYTHING on social media. You are also under no obligation to even look at other people’s photographs on social media.
If looking at other’s “perfect Christmas” makes you feel crappy, put down the device and look at what’s in front of you .
Chances are, your perfect Christmas is right there in front of you…in the real world. Chaos and all.